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Seizing the moment with Michel Nicolas Rivera

Michel Nicolas Rivera knows that as a good bartender you need to seize the moment. He’s also preparing for his chance to do just that as an aspiring bar owner.

Where do you work?

Wild Days at Eaton Hotel & Ladybird at The Banneker.

Tell us something about yourself

Industry Lifer, Former DJ, Aspiring Owner.

What inspired you to get into bartending?

At first it was the lure of the money, but as time went on I grew an appreciation for the ability to converse with so many different people over a drink, or two. 

How according to you has the role of the Bartender evolved, especially now during Covid times?

I think before Covid owners and management viewed us as easily replaceable. As more and more of us left the industry during Covid to branch out into other types of jobs, the shortage of “good” bartenders became apparent. I wouldn’t say I evolved in any other way other than being appreciated for being “good” at my job. 

What are some of the most important skills for a bartender to have?

The ability to seize the moment, to create a sense of flow and accuracy, and being able to engage with a wide range of backgrounds at any given moment. 

What do you look for when you plan to buy spirits for your bar?


What cocktails and drinks trends do you see coming in 2022?

Everybody is on that Ranch Water and Tequila has taken over Bourbon for the most popular spirit.  

What's the best part of your job?

Rising above the pressure and making everyone leave with a memorable time. 

What are your favorite TV shows right now? Or your favorite movie?

The Morning Show on Apple TV. 

If you had to pick one spirit as your personal best, which would it be and why?

Tequila for sure. It’s a spirit that works with several types of backgrounds. Additionally it’s versatility is like none other. Lastly, Tequila tends to make people happy and sets everyone up for a lively and fun night. A mood starter for sure!

A new concept cocktail bar located in Eaton’s Radical Library. The speakeasy bar offers an elevated drinking experience, along with special performances and DJ Sets.

How are you marketing your bar to drive some foot traffic during covid-19?

IG and promoters.

Any tips for new bartenders?

Get to know the classics as well as the new trends. You will never know everything about drinks/liquor. So, remain humble, have a willingness to keep learning, and don’t be intimidated by anyone. In the end all we are doing is pouring drinks. Stay true to who you are. 

What’s the most underrated cocktail ingredient or spirit?

I would say bitters, chartreuse, and a good amaro. 

What is an experience or a customer story you thought was funny and that you remember?

A girl asked me for my telephone number and I gave her my ex’s number. Well, my ex happened to be at the bar without my knowledge. It got a little interesting pretty quickly. 

What are the 4-5 challenges you face in your business and how do you overcome them?

- Volume. I’m usually 4/5 deep every night, and I’ve learned that preps are life. Preparing yourself with everything you’ll need is the key to having a successful night. 
- Creating a Flow. Often something goes wrong, or you come across an unpleasant guest, don’t let it break your stride. Stay focused on the bigger picture and remind yourself of your goal. 
- Energy. I sometimes work a busy day party which turns into a busy happy hour, and finishes with a packed after hours. Working high volume for 12 hours is all about pacing yourself. Pack yourself at least two quick meals; wraps, sandwiches, protein bars, etc. Without eating you will eventually shut down. 
- Unexpected moments. Things will happen. You’ll 86 all your limes, or maybe you’ll run out of tequila? I have certain shifts where no matter what I did every guest seemed challenging or having themselves a bad day. You have to let the little things go and try not to take anything personal. As long as you’ve done your best please keep your head held high and always have a smile on your face to light up the room. 

What's your career goal? Where do you want to be and how are you working towards it?

I want to open my own place. I’ve been developing dishes and recipes, creating a network of promoters, chefs, bar staff, and owners. 

Tips for brands looking to pitch to bars? What should they cover in their pitch? What you do not need to know? Give us the best elevator pitch brands can make to you.
It just comes down to developing friendships rather than pitches. If you have a good product the product will sell itself. Being in business with people you’d like to hang out with and respect is the true pitch. 

Michel Nicolas Rivera 

Define a good Bartender according to you.

The ability to create a memorable experience through knowledge, flair, have the ability to personalize the guest experience, and stay calm during the heated moments. 

What's an ideal bar drinks menu? what should it include, what profit metric should it try and achieve?

Balanced spirits, creativity yet simple enough to produce within a short period of time.

International and Domestic Submission deadline is February 22. If you are looking to grow your brand in 2024, looking for product feedback, or looking to get in front of real trade buyers. It's time to enter your brands in the London Competitions. Here's how to enter, costs and benefits.

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